John E. Miller


Historian and author John E. Miller, 75, a frequent visitor to De Smet, died May 1, 2020, at his home in Brookings.

Miller has participated in numerous book signings in De Smet at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society and at Ward’s Store and Bakery. He wrote, among many other books and articles, “Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little Town: Where History and Literature Meet;” “Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind The Legend;” “Looking for History on Highway 14;” and South Dakota: A Journey Through Time.”

Miller was a professor emeritus in history from South Dakota State University. He joined the faculty there in 1973.

Miller was born in Beloit, Kan., the oldest of four children of Channing and Mildred Miller. His father was a Lutheran pastor and they moved frequently, living in many small towns.

He earned his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees from the University of Missouri before losing his military deferment. Miller served in Vietnam and then returned to Wisconsin to complete his PhD.

He was an active participant with South Dakota Humanities Council, lecturing throughout the state on a wide variety of topics.

He is the winner of numerous scholarly awards, including the South Dakota Board of Regents Research Award in 2000 and the Herbert Schell Governor’s Award for History in 2001.

Survivors include his wife, Kathy, children Tom and Ann, and four grandchildren.

A private family memorial was held and plans are being made for a public memorial when conditions are again safe.

Memorials may be directed to the John Miller Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship through the SDSU Foundation or Ascension Lutheran Church in Brookings.

Memorial cards may be sent to the family in care of the Eidsness Funeral Home, 1617 Orchard Drive, Brookings, 57006.


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